The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners: A Closer Look at Erythritol
Artificial sweeteners such as erythritol, found in many diet and ‘sugar-free’ foods and drinks, are often perceived as healthier alternatives to regular table sugar. However, new research suggests that these sweeteners may pose serious health risks, potentially being more harmful than table sugar itself. This emerging evidence raises concerns about the safety of these sweeteners and their impact on health. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important to further investigate the potential risks associated with artificial sweeteners.
A Potential Threat to Heart Health
Recent research has revealed that erythritol, a common artificial sweetener, may provoke heightened clotting risk, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The FDA has granted erythritol a status called ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS), which means it did not have to undergo extensive safety studies. However, these new findings are prompting calls for more rigorous studies and a change in regulations and labeling for artificial sweeteners.
Artificial Sweeteners and Health Concerns
Previous studies have linked artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, to an increased risk of cancer, while erythritol has been shown to cause digestive issues in some people. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of artificial sweeteners and sticking with a little bit of sugar or honey until more is known. Other potential health concerns linked to high consumption of artificial sweeteners include obesity, several forms of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and depression.
Artificial Sweeteners in Our Food Supply
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables or manufactured by fermenting corn or wheat starch. It is commonly found in many processed foods including Truvia, Splenda, Vitamin Water Zero, and Halo Top Ice Cream. However, artificial sweeteners have been found to negatively impact GLP-1 production and cause disproportionate increases in circulating blood sugar levels.
Choosing Safer Alternatives
Given these potential risks, it’s important to make informed choices when it comes to satisfying our sweet tooth. Eating foods that are naturally sweet and come with beneficial nutrients and fiber is a healthier option. For example, foods such as dates, raisins, bananas, and carrots can provide natural sweetness without the need for artificial sweeteners. Some companies, like Step One Foods, have made a conscious decision to avoid using erythritol in their products.
Artificial Sweeteners: A Risk Worth Taking?
Whilst artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe, they should be used with caution. This is especially true for high-risk individuals such as pregnant and lactating women, diabetics, and those who experience migraines and epilepsy. Ultimately, the key is to balance the use of artificial sweeteners with a healthy diet and consume them in moderation. However, given the emerging evidence suggesting potential health risks, it might be worth reconsidering our reliance on artificial sweeteners altogether.